Category Archive: Gmail Tips

Welcome to Gmail Tips, your resource for Tips and Tricks for Google's Web-based email client.

Jan 04

New in Labs: Default text styling

Tuesday, December 01, 2009 7:50 PM

Posted by Darren Lewis, Software Engineer and Jon Kotker, former Software Engineering Intern

In the early days of email, messages were simple text meant to be read on a terminal. But with the growth of the web came the advent of HTML email, and overnight people began expressing themselves through bold and italics, colors and images, and whatever else their creativity inspired.

If you like to use a specific text style for your messages, you’ve had to change the font every time you’re about to start typing out an email. Now, you can turn on default text styling from the Labs tab, then go to Settings and set your preferences just once.

Try it out and tell us what you think. If you live and breathe code, now you can set your default text style to a monospace font. If your life is purple, your email can be, too. But remember: whatever you see is what your recipients will see, so be nice to them and try not to clog the intertubes with ginormous bold italicized red script!

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New in Labs: Default text styling

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Oct 15

New in Labs: Google Docs previews

The following is is a posting from the Official Gmail News Blog:

Posted by Steven Saviano, Software Engineer

Being an avid Google Docs user, I receive a ton of emails with links to documents that my co-workers and friends share with me. From technical design documents at work to my roommate’s expenses spreadsheet, my inbox is full of document links that I need to view as I reply to my mail.

Opening these links in another tab or window is kind of annoying, plus it can be tough to keep the context of the email in mind while viewing the document.

Starting today, you can preview the contents of a Google document, spreadsheet, or presentation right in your Gmail inbox — just like you’ve already been able to do with YouTube videos, Yelp reviews, and Picasa and Flickr albums. Gmail will automatically detect when you receive a document link and display the name and type of doc below the email.


Just click “Show preview” and the contents of the document will display right there — no need to switch back and forth between email response and document.

To enable Google Docs previews, go to the Labs tab under Settings. Let us know what you think and what else you’d like to see while viewing docs in Gmail.

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New in Labs: Google Docs previews

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Oct 13

New in Labs: Got the wrong Bob?

The following is is a posting from the Official Gmail News Blog:

Posted by Ari Leichtberg, Software Engineer and Yossi Matias, Head of Israel Engineering Center

When’s the last time you got an email from a stranger asking, “Are you sure you meant to send this to me?” and promptly realized that you didn’t? Sometimes these little mistakes are actually quite painful. Hate mail about your boss to your boss? Personal info to some random guy named Bob instead of Bob the HR rep? Doh!

“Got the wrong Bob?” is a new Labs feature aimed at sparing you this kind of embarrassment. Turn it on from the Labs tab under Gmail Settings, and based on the groups of people you email most often, Gmail will try to identify when you’ve accidentally included the wrong person — before it’s too late.


If you normally email Bob Smith together with Tim and Angela, but this time you added Bob Jones instead, we’ll warn you that it might be a mistake. Note that this only works if you’re emailing more than two people at once.

While we were at it, we also changed the name of “Suggest more recipients” to “Don’t forget Bob” — the two related Labs features just kind of went together better this way.

If you want to test “Got the wrong Bob?” out, try faking a mistake like this:
1) Think of three people you often email together.
2) Compose a message to two of them.
3) Start typing the third member of the group (for help you can use one of the people we suggest in “Don’t forget Bob”), but then auto-complete on the wrong name.

If you have suggestions please let us know. And if “Got the wrong Bob?” happens to save you from making a really bad mistake, we want to hear about that too.

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New in Labs: Got the wrong Bob?

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Oct 12

Getting Gmail on your phone

The following is is a posting from the Official Gmail News Blog:

Posted by Shyam Seth, Product Manager, Google Mobile

Checking Gmail on your phone isn’t reserved for those of us with extra fancy mobile devices — sure, it’s easier to use Gmail when your iPhone has a touchscreen or there’s a downloadable app built especially for your BlackBerry, but Gmail is available on almost all mobile devices today. If your phone has a data plan, it can get Gmail. There are two main ways to check your messages on the go:

(1) Go to gmail.com in your mobile browser

The easiest way to check Gmail from your phone is to go to gmail.com in your device’s mobile browser. That opens a version of Gmail built especially for small screens, where you can see messages grouped into conversations, search through your mail, or flag important messages with stars. On some devices (iPhone and Android), Gmail offers some additional features like the ability to add and remove labels and basic offline support. Text the link to your phone to get started.

(2) Use your phone’s built in email application

Many mobile devices come with native mail applications pre-installed. Setting up Gmail to work with them is usually pretty straight-forward and there is often a wizard to help. If you have an iPhone or Windows Mobile device, you can get push Gmail using Google Sync. Otherwise, you can set things up using IMAP with these step-by-step directions for specific devices. Depending on your particular phone, you may notice features such as search, conversations, and stars missing. On the plus side, these applications tend to start up quickly and work even when you’re not connected to the internet.

For more information, check out this new beginner’s guide.

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Getting Gmail on your phone

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Oct 06

Choosing a smart password

The following is is a posting from the Official Gmail News Blog:

Posted by Michael Santerre, Consumer Operations Associate

As part of National Cyber Security Awareness Month, we’d like to take this opportunity to remind you about smart password practices. Help ensure you’re protecting your computer, website, and personal information by checking out our security series on the Google blog or visiting http://www.staysafeonline.org.

Phishing, a topic that’s been in the news, is unfortunately a common way for hackers to trick you into sharing personal information like your account password. If you suspect you’ve been a victim of a phishing attack, we recommend you immediately change your password, update the security question and secondary address on your account, and make sure you’re using a modern browser with anti-phishing protection turned on. Keep an eye out for the phishing warning Gmail adds to suspicious messages, and be sure to review these tips on how to avoid getting hooked.

Creating a new password is often one of the first recommendations you hear when trouble occurs. Even a great password can’t keep you from being scammed, but setting one that’s memorable for you and that’s hard for others to guess is a smart security practice since weak passwords can be easily guessed. Below are a few common problems we’ve seen in the past and suggestions for making your passwords stronger.

Problem 1: Re-using passwords across websites
With a constantly growing list of services that require a password (email, online banking, social networking, and shopping websites — just to name a few), it’s no wonder that many people simply use the same password across a variety of accounts. This is risky: if someone figures out your password for one service, that person could potentially gain access to your private email, address information, and even your money.

Solution 1: Use unique passwords
It’s a good idea to use unique passwords for your accounts, expecially important accounts like email and online banking. When you create a password for a site, you might think of a phrase you associate with the site and use an abbreviation or variation of that phrase as your password — just don’t use the actual words of the site. If it’s a long phrase, you can take the first letter of each word. To make this word or phrase more secure, try making some letters uppercase, and swap out some letters with numbers or symbols. As an example, the phrase for your banking website could be “How much money do I have?” and the password could be “#m$d1H4ve?” (Note: since we’re using them here, please don’t adopt any of the example passwords in this post for yourself.)

Problem 2: Using common passwords or words found in the dictionary
Common passwords include simple words or phrases like “password” or “letmein,” keyboard patterns such as “qwerty” or “qazwsx,” or sequential patterns such as “abcd1234.” Using a simple password or any word you can find in the dictionary makes it easier for a would-be hijacker to gain access to your personal information.

Solution 2: Use a password with a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols
There are only 26^8 possible permutations for an 8-character password that uses just lowercase letters, while there are 94^8 possible permutations for an 8-character password that uses a combination of mixed-case letters, numbers, and symbols. That’s over 6 quadrillion more possible variations for a mixed password, which makes it that much harder for anyone to guess or crack.

Problem 3: Using passwords based on personal data
We all share information about ourselves with our friends and coworkers. The names of your spouse, children, or pets aren’t usually all that secret, so it doesn’t make sense to use them as your passwords. You should also stay away from birth dates, phone numbers, or addresses.

Solution 3: Create a password that’s hard for others to guess
Choose a combination of letters, numbers, or symbols to create a unique password that’s unrelated to your personal information. Or, select a random word or phrase, and insert letters and numbers into the beginning, middle, and end to make it extra difficult to guess (such as “sPo0kyh@ll0w3En”).

Problem 4: Writing down your password and storing it in an unsecured place
Some of us have enough online accounts that we may need to write our passwords down somewhere, at least until we’ve learned them well.

Solution 4: Keep your password reminders in a secret place that isn’t easily visible
Don’t leave notes with your passwords to various sites on your computer or desk. People who walk by can easily steal this information and use it to compromise your account. Also, if you decide to save your passwords in a file on your computer, create a unique name for the file so people don’t know what’s inside. Avoid naming the file “my passwords” or something else obvious.

Problem 5: Recalling your password
When choosing smart passwords like these, it can often be more difficult to remember your password when you try to sign in to a site you haven’t visited in a while. To get around this problem, many websites will offer you the option to either send a password-reset link to your email address or answer a security question.

Solution 5: Make sure your password recovery options are up-to-date and secure
You should always make sure you have an up-to-date email address on file for each account you have, so that if you need to send a password reset email it goes to the right place.

Many websites will ask you to choose a question to verify your identity if you ever forget your password. If you’re able to create your own question, try to come up with a question that has an answer only you would know. The answer shouldn’t be something that someone can guess by scanning information you’ve posted online in social networking profiles, blogs, and other places.

If you’re asked to choose a question from a list of options, such as the city where you were born, you should be aware that these questions are likely to be less secure. Try to find a way to make your answer unique — you can do this by using some of the tips above, or by creating a convention where you always add a symbol after the 2nd character in the answer (e.g. in@dianapolis) — so that even if someone guesses the answer, they won’t know how to enter it properly.

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Choosing a smart password

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Sep 25

New in Labs: Hide read labels

The following is is a posting from the Official Gmail News Blog:

Posted by David de Kloet, Software Engineer

A lot of people want to see their labels in order to see which ones have unread messages, but they don’t want a long list of label names cluttering up the left hand side of their inboxes. To help out with this, we’ve made a Gmail Labs feature called “Hide read labels.” Turn it on from the Labs tab under Settings and all your labels without unread messages will be hidden under the “More” menu. Labels with unread messages will automatically show up, unless you’ve explicitly chosen to keep them hidden.

This is particularly handy if you use your inbox as a to-do list where unread messages are the outstanding things you need to take care of. If you use that method along with labels like “Home” and “Project X,” it’s easy to see all your to-dos in context. With this Labs feature on, labels with outstanding to-dos will be bold and have a number next to them; everything else will be hidden in the “11 more” section:

We think this is a nice addition to the new labels navigation bar and hope you like it. Tell us what you think in the Gmail Labs forum.

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New in Labs: Hide read labels

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Sep 22

Push Gmail for iPhone and Windows Mobile

The following is is a posting from the Official Gmail News Blog:

Posted by Marcus Foster, Product Manager, Google Mobile

Those of you who live in your Gmail inboxes usually want to know what’s happening with your email more instantly than standard fetch mail on your phone allows. Sure, using Gmail in your mobile browser gives you all the benefits of conversation threading and starring, but you still have to refresh every time you want to check for new mail.

When we launched Google Sync for Contacts and Google Calendar earlier this year, an over-the-air, always-on connection to sync mail was noticeably absent. We heard your requests loud and clear, and starting today you can use Google Sync to get your Gmail messages pushed directly to your iPhone, iPod Touch, or Windows Mobile device.

You can set up push Gmail by itself or choose to sync your Contacts and/or Calendar as well. If you’re using an iPhone, make sure you’re running iPhone OS version 3.0 or above (on your device, click Settings > General > About and scroll down until you see Version). If your software is out of date, follow Apple’s upgrade instructions. Then, visit m.google.com/sync from your computer for set up instructions. If you’re already using Google Sync, you can just enable push mail.

Once you’re set up, new messages are normally pushed to your phone within seconds. While this type of speed is pretty awesome, push connections tend to use more power than fetching at intervals, so don’t be surprised if your battery life isn’t quite what it used to be. We’ve done a lot of work to optimize power usage, but if you prefer to save battery life, you can always turn off push in your phone’s settings and fetch mail every 30 or 60 minutes instead.

The rest is here:
Push Gmail for iPhone and Windows Mobile

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Sep 09

New in Labs: Play Google Voice messages in Gmail

The following is is a posting from the Official Gmail News Blog:

Posted by Vincent Paquet, Google Voice Product Manager

Google Voice helps you manage your communications with a unique phone number that rings all your existing phones, a single voicemail inbox with online access and automated transcription, and lots of handy features like the ability to block spammy calls and easily record personalized greetings for your callers. Think of it as Gmail for your phone calls and text messages (watch this video to learn more). Google Voice is currently available via invitation, which you can request here.

For those of you who already use Google Voice, you’re probably used to receiving voicemail notifications via email. A couple of minutes after someone leaves a voicemail on your Google Voice number, you’ll receive an email showing who called, an automated transcript of the voicemail, and a link to play the message. You can click the link to listen to the message right from your computer.

Previously, clicking “Play message” opened a new page in your browser, but starting today, you can play voicemails right in Gmail. Just turn on the Google Voice player from the Gmail Labs tab under Settings and whenever you get a voicemail notification, the player will appear right below the message itself.


Best of all, your message status will stay synced: messages played from Gmail will appear as read in your Google Voice inbox and won’t be played again when you check new messages via your phone. If you already use Google Voice, try it out and let us know what you think. If you don’t have a Google Voice account yet, sign up for an invitation and we’ll get you one ASAP.

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New in Labs: Play Google Voice messages in Gmail

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Sep 03

Four new themes

The following is is a posting from the Official Gmail News Blog:

Posted by Jake Knapp, UI Designer and Manu Cornet, Software Engineer

Manu: Hey Jake, you still using that same old theme?
Jake: Well, yeah. I mean, I like it — but I don’t know… I guess it just doesn’t feel as new as it used to.
Manu: I hear ya. Well, good news! Today four new themes are out there for everybody. Just go to the Themes tab under Settings…and ta da!
Jake: (click, click) There we go!
Manu: Should we tell people about why we created these four themes?
Jake: We should.
Manu: Assuming they’re still reading.
Jake: Right. Okay, well, Gmail themes have been out since November, and I know we were ready for some new ones.
Manu: And we heard some of you asking for new ones too. So we thought about what we wanted to stare at all day long, since we work on Gmail.
Jake: I’ve been living in Zurich for the last year, and I missed Washington State, where I grew up. The Orcas Island theme definitely takes away a little bit of that homesickness with a new image each day of the week.


Manu: Homesickness eh? What about timesickness?
Jake: There’s such a thing?
Manu: Totally. Sometimes I find myself timesick.
Jake: For when?
Manu: For a simpler time. For a time when processors weren’t too fast. When graphics weren’t too realistic.
Jake: Sounds like a real bummer. Too bad there’s no cure for timesickness.
Manu: That’s where you’re dead wrong, my friend. Take a look at High Score. It’s like being in a time machine isn’t it?


Jake: (click, click) Aren’t these colors a little bright?
Manu: Aren’t you supposed to be a designer?
Jake: We’ll have to agree to disagree, my friend. This one just isn’t for me. I need something soothing. Something like laying face down in the grass.
Manu: I suppose you’re talking about Turf now. What’s the story behind that one?


Jake: Well, who doesn’t like the color green?
Manu: And it doesn’t change every day, so it was easier for us to make.
Jake: Are you suggesting we’re lazy?
Manu: Prove that we’re not.
Jake: We just made four new themes. How about that?
Manu: It took us ten months. And the fourth theme (Random) merely cycles through all the others.
Jake: Well, enjoy these themes for now. And, of course, let us know what you think. Maybe we’ll have some more for you in the next ten months ;)

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Four new themes

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